Chobani Yogurt Founder Buys Anchor Brewing Company


The billionaire owner of the yogurt company Chobani said on Friday that he had acquired Anchor Brewing Company, the San Francisco brewer that went out of business last year after 127 years.

Hamdi Ulukaya, who is also Chobani’s chief executive, said in a video posted on social media that he looked forward to bringing Anchor Brewing “back to life.” The price Mr. Ulukaya paid to acquire the brewing company’s assets from a liquidator was not disclosed.

Anchor, said to be America’s oldest craft brewer, announced it was shutting down in July 2023, citing the effects of the pandemic, inflation and a highly competitive beer market.

Sam Singer, a spokesman for Anchor, said on Friday that the company was “very pleased” about the acquisition.

“He’s practically a perfect fit,” Mr. Singer said of Mr. Ulukaya, a native of Turkey who helped bring Greek yogurt into the American mainstream.

“We believe that he will have that same magic touch in taking a historic brewery and reinvigorating it for future San Franciscans,” he said.

Founded in 1896, Anchor survived earthquakes and fire, but was briefly shut down during Prohibition. Beloved by many Americans, it is often credited with spurring a craft beer resurgence in the 1960s.

But by 2016, its sales were declining, and in 2017, the company was acquired for around $85 million by the Japanese beer giant Sapporo. The pandemic was particularly disruptive, Mr. Singer said last year, noting that 70 percent of Anchor’s beers had been sold in restaurants and bars. Efforts to adapt, including a rebranding campaign that was criticized by longtime customers, and a shift to bottling and canning more of its beers to sell in grocery stores, “couldn’t make up for the significant loss of sales,” he said.

The company’s unionized employees pitched buying the brewer and running it as a co-op to keep it in business.

Anchor employed 61 people, all of whom were laid off when it closed last year, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. It was not immediately clear whether those workers would be rehired.

Mr. Ulukaya founded Chobani in 2005, a little over a decade after he arrived in the United States with $3,000 in his pocket. He bought a shuttered yogurt plant in New Berlin, N.Y., with a loan from the Small Business Administration, and the first Chobani cups hit store shelves in 2007.

In 2015, Mr. Ulukaya announced that he had taken a stake in La Colombe Coffee Roasters, the Philadelphia-based upscale coffee brand and purveyor of canned cold brew and draft lattes. Chobani acquired La Colombe last December for $900 million.

By 2023, Mr. Ulukaya said that Chobani, which is privately held, had surpassed $2 billion in sales.

Chobani has drawn accolades — and ire — for hiring refugees. The company established the Tent Partnership for Refugees in 2015, a foundation to help other corporations hire and integrate refugees into their workforces.

The announcement of Mr. Ulukaya’s acquisition of Anchor Brewing was cheered by Mayor London Breed of San Francisco, while critics questioned whether the company would be able to maintain its role as a community staple under new ownership.

Esther Mobley, a senior wine critic for The Chronicle, wrote that Anchor’s signature beer, Steam, was “an expression of the city’s uniquely quirky climate.”

“Long before temperature control was available,” she wrote, “Steam’s fermentation was regulated only by the cool bay breeze.”

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